Due to its position in the Atlantic Ocean, the island of Madeira has been blessed with the perfect conditions for many plants and flowers to thrive. It is wet enough to keep them hydrated, but also receives plenty of sunshine for photosynthesis and the wind provides a cooling effect.
Add the nourishing earth and the fact that many natives of the island go to a lot of effort to cultivate gardens and you have a paradise of vibrant colour. A summer holiday to Madeira represents the perfect opportunity to explore the locations. Here is a guide to where to start.
Where better place to start than the island’s Botanical Gardens that are situated just three kilometres from the centre of Funchal. This enchanting space has been transformed since its inception in 1960 into an oasis of calm.
Here you will find more than 2,000 varieties of plants all carefully labelled to let you know their common name, scientific moniker and place of origin. This is particularly good for avid gardeners coming across species they have not seen before.
The garden is split into five main areas, making it easier to navigate. These are indigenous and endemic; tree garden; succulents; tropical, cultivated, aromatic and medicinal; and Loiro Park. The final section is home to a selection of rare birds.
Open daily between 9am and 6pm except Christmas Day, be sure to add it to your itinerary.
Grand residences often came with extravagant gardens and the Monte Palace, near Funchal, was no exception. The opulent building has served as a fitting backdrop to the lush vegetation since it was bought by Jose Berardo and lovingly restored.
Keen to share his passion with the rest of the world, he opened the gardens up to the public in 1989 and people have been flocking to see them ever since. As well as both indigenous and more exotic plants, added interest is achieved through several water features and a fine collection of ceramic tiles.
Visit this garden all year round, baring Christmas Day itself, from the hours of 9.30am to 6pm.
Situated in the hills to the east of Funchal, these gardens benefit from a stunning setting that throws the planting into stark contrast with its surroundings. The Palheiro Gardens are often affectionately referred to as the Blandy Gardens by the locals as a family of that name took them over in 1885.
One of the first sights that greets visitors to this haven of flowers is the drive at the entrance heavily planted with camellias. If you are making your trip between October and April they are likely to be in flower.
It is open between 9.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday, with the exception of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Quinta da Boa Vista
If you like your plants on the exotic side then you don’t have to travel far outside of Funchal to find the exceptional Quinta da Boa Vista. While many people enjoy its collection of bromeliads originating in South America, it is the orchid houses that take centre stage.
Here you will find so many varieties of this delicate flower and in every colour imaginable you will be blown away. Also on show are African aloes and martinets from Australia.
Make your way here any day of the year except Sundays and enjoy the plants from 9am to 5.30pm.